“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.” Robert Louis Stevenson
If patience is a virtue, it is a virtue I lacked a couple of weekends ago. One weekend I decided enough was enough and I started the tomatoes. I started nine varieties plus the rootstock (started a day later, per the directions). Over the last couple of years we have developed a preference for black tomatoes and the gold/yellow and red sunburst varieties. The varieties I started are: 1884 (a big pink slicer), Chocolate Stripes, Tim’s Black Ruffles, Avamato (aka Current tomato), Arkansas Marvel, Cherokee Purple, Flamme, Sun Gold, and a Black Cherry. We also have a couple of Big Jakes (aka Big Zacs) that I will try cloning in a week or so. I also ordered a couple of already grafted San Marzano tomato plants that should arrive in April. The San Marzano will primarily be for jarred tomato salsa since they are drier than the other varieties. If all of these grow well, we will be overwhelmed by tomatoes; but, assuming I find a space to plant them all, we will have a fantastic variety. I have missed having homegrown tomatoes around the house.
I have mentioned that I am trying grafting my tomatoes this year. This involves starting a rootstock plant and the plant for the tomatoes I want to grow and eat. When they are about three weeks old the top of one is grafted onto the bottom of the other. This requires that the two plants be similar in size. Any of you that have started tomatoes from seeds know that various varieties grow at different rates, and each seed grows differently. This presents the issue of when to start the various varieties to have plants about the same size. Because the rootstock seeds are pricy, hopefully this will all work. I am anticipating doing the actual grafting in about one week.
The peppers I have started, the habanero and serrano chilies, and the pimento peppers, are doing well. The serrano peppers are the fast grower of the bunch and they are getting quite big. The red storage onions are doing well also. I am still hopeful I ordered the correct variety (long day or short day). When I investigated the two I determined the variety I ordered is adapted to about 1/2 a degree in latitude north of where the garden is located. Hopefully that will not be too much to have them form bulbs.
In a nod towards the benefits procrastination, the habanero and serrano peppers I transplanted from the garden into my yard and that were hit hard by our deep freeze (by Phoenix standards) a few weeks ago are re-leafing. Parts of the plants died, and I was about to pull them out of the ground when I noticed new leaves. Hopefully the roots are still strong and our pending spring weather should be about right for peppers to flourish. Maybe the hot peppers aren’t as far away as I thought a week ago.
In the next couple of weeks I will be starting the other chili peppers – Big Jim, a NuMex Anaheim, and the Poblano peppers. We will use these for roasting and salsa (are you noticing a lot of what we grow is for various salsas?). Soon after that I will start the tomatillos. Then my little seed starting area will be overwhelmed and hopefully I can move some of it outside before moving it up to the garden.